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RPLA Showcase: Rhett DeVane

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2017 Unpublished Mainstream Fiction

Parade of Horribles

Rhett DeVane

Life can become a parade of horribles—the kind you imagine or the kind you never see coming.

Rhett DeVane is the published author of adult and middle-grade fiction. She lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where she splits her time between her dental hygiene practice and writing.

At the 2017 Royal Palm Literary Award Banquet, author Rhett DeVane won First Place for her Mainstream Fiction. Each year at the RPLA Banquet, authors experience the joy of earning accolades for all the hard work that is often done in the privacy of the home with little to no recognition. We’re showcasing the best of the best with our First Place winners spotlight. Not only does RPLA recognize extraordinary talent, but we’re giving readers an opportunity to sample excerpts from the winning stories.

Click the link to read a sample: Parade of Horribles

An Interview with Rhett DeVane

Where do you get your story ideas?

I watch and listen, and take notes. Sometimes the story evolves from a real experience. Others, it is spurred by something small that catches my attention. Parade of Horribles is a combination of the two. One of my friends, a respected mental health counselor, once commented that, like most people, I can take a series of unrelated events and turn them into my own private “parade of horribles.” My first reaction, after I laughed and agreed, was “gee, that would make a great title for a novel.” I tucked the idea aside. A few weeks later, I received a series of suggestive text messages, and their numbers grew to the point I counted as many as thirty to forty daily. It took several weeks to unravel the mystery with the help of an officer who specialized in cybercrime. Turns out, someone had listed my cellphone as the contact number for a love-for-hire ad on an international website known for prostitution.

This made me think: though I viewed the annoying situation as a mystery to be solved, and often hilarious, how would a former victim of a hate crime perceive the same texts? The story launched and poured out, as if the characters idled in the ether, anxious for someone to snag the bait.

Anything in particular about your award-winning RPLA entry that you’d like to share?

The nature of fear has always intrigued me, both the kind we build in imagination and the tangible threats we often don’t see coming. I have strong feelings about hatred used to hurt other people who live differently, whether those differences are racial, cultural, or sexual orientation. Through the characters and actions in Parade of Horribles, I strive to show the aftereffects of such divisive hate, as well as the healing balm of friendship and support.

Parade of Horribles is now in print, and won the 2017 President’s Award for fiction from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association.

Who do you credit with inspiring your writing?

Over the years since I settled into my writing, I have come to understand the distinction between inspired and encouraged. My mother encouraged me, from the time I first picked up a pencil. Before she died at age 91, she urged me to never give up on my writing, as it would “take me places I could never imagine.” I also credit Sharon Lasseter, one of my high school English teachers, for prodding me early on. She and my mom received the first two signed copies of my first novel, The Madhatter’s Guide to Chocolate, over fifteen years ago.

Inspiration comes from the roil of humanity around me. I cull relationships, daily life, my travels, and international events, observing for the many ways humans hurt and heal each other. It’s hard to run out of ideas and material when they surround me every day.

Any tips for new writers?

Read. Write. Repeat. To internalize things like pacing and word usage, you must be a rabid reader. Don’t limit yourself to only your genre. Read quality work, both fiction and nonfiction. Learn to accept constructive criticism from qualified instructors. It is not necessary to attain a college degree to write, but you must seek out others who can help you improve. Attend workshops and conferences. Network with other writers. Join a critique group. Continue to absorb as much as you can. Your writing will improve with each step.

Above all: write. A lot. Every day if you can. Turn off social media. Set your mind and heart to what you put into words. Know that the moment you experience the high of completing a first draft, you enter hours of revisions. And please, don’t allow your lazy text English to pollute your writing, unless you are directly quoting for a specific reason. Even within such a creative industry, rules apply. Learn the rules and strive to follow them. Find your unique voice. Follow it. And remember to have fun.

Since winning the award, the book has been published. You can view and purchase it here: Parade of Horribles

Thank you for sharing, Rhett, and congratulations! Visit her website: www.rhettdevane.com

A message about supporting literacy in Florida:

If every member of FWA went to Smile.Amazon.com, chose Florida Writers Foundation, Inc. as their charity and, instead of logging into Amazon.com, logged into Smile.Amazon.com, FWF would receive 0.5% of the purchase funds. Every time.

We could significantly fund the literacy efforts of our organization. No money out of your pockets…just some invested time to set this up.

How easy for us to make a difference. To see all of our work, please read the pages of our website www.floridawritersfoundation.com. You’ll be proud.

Tom Swartz, President, FWF

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Follow Veronica H. Hart:

Veronica Hart is FWA’s Regional Director for Volusia, Flagler, and Putnam counties. She is an award-winning published author of historical fiction, science fiction, and cozies. She studied Russian language and literature and participated in creative writing courses at SUNY and UCLA. Later she completed The Institute of Children's Literature course. She has written nine plays, an award-winning musical, and to date, eight published or soon-to-be-published novels. www.veronicahhart.com

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